Thursday, November 1, 2012

Day 2- Drifter's Up!

Time: 0100 Zulu Thurs 11/1 (noon New Caledonia Thurs 1 Nov)
Position: 19*29'S 173*24'E
Wind: E 8-9 Seas: SE/SW 3-ft
Avg. Course: 235-deg T
Avg. Speed: 4.6-knots
Rig: 150% Drifter, triple-reefed mains'l
Distance noon to noon point: 110-nm

Early in the afternoon, Chris spotted his first traffic- a fishing vessel. No problem, except they did not return his hails. Finally, he tightened up to change our course and the vessel passed within 0.25-nm to our stern, close enough for him to clearly see Asian characters, the name Rituna 3, and even someone on deck throw something into the sea. Scary that no one was listening to the radio. Otherwise it was a gorgeous day of sailing, and as evening approached a blanket of clouds covered the sky. Nervous about the long passage in general and having been rattled by the unresponsive vessel, Shawn was in no mood to cook much, so comfort food it was, mac-n-cheese with diced tomatoes and a can of tuna for Chris after completing updated weather downloads.

The moon is currently waning, so after sunset it is amazingly dark. Two hours later, a pumpkin orange moon could be seen between the horizon and cloud layer, before it climbed to hide behind the overcast sky. The light of the moon could then be seen through the clouds as it climbed, and later a few stars peeked through small openings. A brief increase in winds had us start the night conservatively with a triple-reefed main. The nearly 2-meter seas were forecast to decrease, and that they did, with some strange rolliness which awoke Chris to search our charts for nonexistent seamounts that might be creating the strange seas. With winds down at midnight shift change, we brought the full main back up and poled out the 100% jib to keep it from collapsing with a loud snap with each large roll. The rest of the night was pleasant as seas organized themselves and a single cloud brought some moisture and breezes around dawn, enough for Chris to reef the main once again, but soon gone, the full main was again proudly flying.

We overlapped at shift change/breakfast/weather radio hour (for that this time change has been excellent). Then off to rest for Chris, and Shawn willed the winds to continue. But as winds nearly vanished by 1000, two hours early for his watch she awoke Chris for sail changes. Down came the flogging 100% jib, up went the Drifter, down came the main to 3rd reef (for stability) and the boom's end doubled as a large Drifter-pole. Back up to almost 3.0-knots went our speeds, plenty for us, but apparently not the norm, as our weather router assumed that we would be motoring this section. Speaking of which, our weather router's information has been spot on for these first couple days. Quite amazing, really, he used an expensive but highly regarded (at least by Julia and Jacob of s/v Pisces) routing software package called Expedition. Still, we will have to contact him and have him rework future forecasts for us with our "no motor unless we have to" variable- we do not have nearly enough fuel to motor the amount he estimated for the passage all the way to Brisbane. Is this what people mean by the mellow South Pacific trades we have yet to see (well, no, actually we're in easterlies on the back side of a passing High)? Just in case, we are soaking them up anyway, enjoying the quiet as our newly patched Drifter pulls us along, Chris tends to some small deck tasks, and Shawn might even motivate to make more bread!

1 comment:

  1. Dear Chris and Shawn ever since Tonga I have been looking for your blog updates every day and really enjoying them. I am back working hundreds of miles from the sea so I am sailing in my mind with you as you head for Australia.Soon that nervousness will have gone and you will feel a kind of one-ness with the sea and the boat and each other - it is such a great state of mind to be in, something you never get with short day sails and overnight trips. Yachts like Tao ( and Sapphire !) are tremendously strong and dependable and safe, she will take great care of you, she is in her element right now. Best wishes from David